challenges of parenthood

He’s Taking Over the World.

I did something stupid and bought Big Son the latest Halo game. I told myself he would finish it in one week and that would be that. Ha. I should have done my research first. Because yes, Big Son finished every level in Halo4 in one week. But then he hooked up with the entire world that is playing Halo4 online and now he’s lost in a world of gamers that involves him sitting there with a headset on, muttering to his Clan. Or his Tribe. Or his Secret Combination of Gadianton Robbers. Or whatever they call it.

If you’re as ignorant as I was – let me enlighten you. Before you too are as dumb as me and get YOUR kid Halo4. And a broadband connection. Apparently, one can link to anyone and everyone who is playing Halo4, form alliances, play against other evil alliances and work one’s way up the rankings so that one can eventually achieve WORLD DOMINATION. And be the King of Halo4. It means Big Son rushes to get all his chores done so he can put his war gear on, park his skinny butt in front of the giant screen and plot world domination strategies. (I find it personally offensive that this child can eat the way he does and SIT in front of the tv as much as he does and yet not gain an ounce. While all I have to do is look at a picture of  a donut and have it go straight to my hips.) He has a gamer tag name. And converses with other gamer tag named individuals. And all of them are entered in the Halo4 Infinity Challenge. If you’re awesome enough and make it to the top 200 in the universe, then you get to enter the finals with a bucketload of fantabulous prizes.

Big Son is overjoyed to inform me that, “Mum, I am in the top tier ranking of the Infinity Challenge!!!” He seemed disappointed that I did not fall to the ground in a stupor of amazement at this news.

Really son? I’m supposed to be excited and proud about this achievement? Are you for real?

Big Son is the very first child I ever grew which means he got the very best (and worst) of my parenting enthusiasm. I think about his SHAMAHZING Halo4 Infinity Challenge prowess and I remember the hours I spent with earphones stuck to my pregnant watermelon-belly so his unborn self could sprout genius brain matter by listening to Mozart. The sleepless nights I read him Wordsworth, Shakespeare and Keats while he consumed endless amounts of milk. The looooong afternoons dedicated to teaching him multiplication tables and spelling lists. The evenings I read him not one, not two, but the ENTIRE FREAKIN SEVEN BOOK SERIES of Harry Potter, one after the other. I remember all the days I volunteered as a Parent Helper in his Grade Two classroom – official explanation was because I was an enthusiastic mum who cared about education but the real reason was because I wanted to spy on the kids that were possibly bullying my shrimp’ish, overly bright, overly loudmouthed child. (And then maybe, just maybe I wanted to secretly whack one of those aforementioned bullying kids…just maybe.)  I was the mum who forbade television and spent thousands on books. I was the mum who hoped for great, fantabulous things from her fantabulous child, taking over the world type things! Yay!

Yeah, I remember all these things as I see Big Son strategize with his invisible global Halo4 Alliance – and I’m so-NOT excited. This is not how I envisioned he would take over the world.


Google Loves me More than My Mum Does.

What Big Son is wearing this week. 

You know what I hate? The law of the universe which dictates that your child
* will only ever have a volcanic raging fever – in the middle of the night. Play all day, run wild outdoors then clock strikes twelve? Pumpkin coach explodes. Fever, crash and burn.
* will only ever be mortally wounded – in the middle of the night. Climb a tree in the moonlight because they think ‘it’s fun’ and rip their leg open bad enough that they need emergency surgery.
* will only ever suffer a life-threatening allergic reaction to their pain meds – in the middle of the night. Play X-box all afternoon. Sleep. Eat. Play more X-box. BAAAAAM, ‘I’m dying, help me.

I also hate that secondary law of the universe which dictates that all of these bad things will only ever happen to your child when your partner is an ocean away in Samoa/Australia/NZ.

Last week, Big Son had his wisdom tooth extracted. There was crying involved. From me. There was pain, suffering and swelling. For him. He was doped up with 3 different types of medication. By the second day, he was feeling worse than the first. I soothed him and told him ‘this too shall pass. Be strong. Be patient.’ By the third day, he was feeling super worse than the second. I was a little irritated with him. Because of course, I am a busy multi-tasking mother who has way more important things to do than coddle a seventeen year old who’s practically a MAN already. I brushed him off and told him ‘you’re exaggerating. Get over it.’ He went and played X-box. An hour later he came to tell me “I feel really weird. Dizzy. Breathless.” I told him, “X-Box has that effect on people. Its a scientific fact. Go away. I’m very busy.” Night time comes. Big Son staggers over to me and shows me a google page printout. “I think you should take me to the emergency room. According to Google, I’m having an allergic reaction to codeine.” 

I am ashamed (now) to tell you that I rolled my eyes. And complained loudly. All the way to the afterhours A&E. And I muttered words like…’hypochondriac…bloody Google…giving sooky teenagers ideas…’ as I thought about all the writing that I WASNT doing because I was taking this kid to the doctor. My annoyance  continued right up until we got to reception and I noticed that Big Son’s face now resembled that of a lopsided blowfish. And he was red in the face. And struggling to breathe. And doctors rushed him down the hall, hooked him up to machines, pushed the panic button, loaded him into an ambulance and drove away.  Huh

“What’s happening?” Your son is having an allergic reaction. We need to get him to the hospital immediately. Just like that, Big Son went from being ‘Annoying Big Sook Son who is Fiapoko enough to google imaginary illnesses’ – to Big Son who Might Die and All Because His Horrible Selfish Mother didn’t Look After Him Properly. 

Some hours later, Big Son was alright. Disaster had been averted. And I had to deal with the next awful challenge. Telling his faraway-father-in-Samoa what had happened.  Saying, “But he was playing X-Box all afternoon and he looked just fine dammit!” was a little bit helpful for my case. But not much. Especially not when Big Son tells his Dad on the phone ( in a very weak, sad voice) “It’s so lucky I turned to Google.” Because my mum ignored me. Google loves me more than my own mum.  “It’s a good thing I kept asking mum to take me to the doctor and didn’t give up.” Because my mum is a cruel heartless creature. I could have passed out on my bedroom floor and she wouldn’t have noticed I was dead until rats started gnawing on my body.

I want the universe to witness that I have apologized profusely to my son. All this week, I have been creeping in to his room when he’s asleep to check that he’s still breathing. (I havent done that since he was a little boy that believed I was the smartest, bestest person on the planet.) I have also stopped complaining about how much I miss living in Samoa. Because I’m feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for excellent medical care in NZ. I am also very appreciative of the majesty and wonder of Google.

Can I just say though, that it’s been a week now and Big Son is STILL workin that guilt trip? “It would be nice if you bought me some ice cream/gave me an extra ten dollars/excused me from chores…you know I could have died last week? Remember how you didn’t listen to me? You didn’t care? Remember that?”

Parents everywhere, let this be a lesson for you – Never ever be too busy to pay attention to your sick kid. Because if he has to end up Googling his own symptoms? Then he will NEVER let you forget it.

The Favorite.

Ask just about any parent if they have a ‘favorite’ child – and they will usually bluster until they’re blue in the face, that NO, of course not. Dont be ridiculous. I love all my children equally. Exactly the same.

I’m going to risk death and dismemberment and say – they’re lying. Big time. It is impossible to love all your children EXACTLY the same because they are all different and at different times in your parenting life, you will alternately love them/detest them/despair of them/be confounded by them. How do I know this? I have five children. I am one of six children. Im one of gazillions of grandchildren ( my grandfather had 24 children. Don’t ask.) In a nutshell, I have had heaps of opportunity to study out for myself – this conundrum of parents and their favorites.

Favoritism – both real and imaginary – runs rampant in every family. Just ask any kid on the street. Or living in your house! Children are rabid dogs out for blood at the slightest hint of favoritism. Injustice. “His piece of cake is bigger than mine!” “She got 3 presents from Santa and I only got 2!” Even teenagers work that no-fair-favorite angle. “You let her go to a birthday party at night, how come you wont let me go to a party at night?” (Umm because she’s 7 and it was a fully adult supervised event at McDonalds while YOUR invitation is to a dance party rave at some unspecified location with unknown numbers of unsavory people all imbibing uncertifiably disgusting amounts of unlicensed liquids…NO WAY IN FLAMING HECK!)

Kids will use some of the weirdest things to pin favoritism charges on their parents. Like illness and special conditions. When we were growing up, my kid sister was a constant sickly worry to my parents and so she always got special food, special treatment. Which to the rest of us translated to “She’s a spoilt rotten favorite brat! No fair!” Two of my children are gluten intolerant and dairy makes them queasy. You’d think this would make their siblings feel sorry for them – as they scoff down chocolate cake and buckets of ice cream while the sorry pair are sipping on soymilk. Nope. Little Son is constantly accusing us of mistreating him, “You never buy ME special soya ice pops! Its not fair.” (Roll my eyes. Whatever. Whine to somebody who cares.) Sometimes the whole favorite whinge just annoys me and I want to scream: “You’re right! I cant stand you – thats why Im treating you this way. Everybody else is the favorite EXCEPT you!”

My dad knew the trick to successful neutral Switzerland parenting. He worked on building a separate relationship with each of his children. One where he talked to you like you were an adult. (even when you were an irritating 8yr old) Where he made you feel like your opinion actually mattered. Each of us always knew we had a connection with our Dad that was independent of any other sibling. Thats why, each of my sisters will tell you that …”I’M MY DAD’S FAVORITE!” I have a lot to learn from his example.

If Im being totally honest, I would have to say that while I love ALL of my children – sometimes I like being with one more than the other. I like hanging with Sade when she’s in a joking mood – that girl is so funny I dont know how we’re even related. I prefer JB’s company when I’m tired, sick or stressed – he’s the calm, helpful, responsible one that knows just what to say and do to soothe any situation. If I need a super quick, super fast helper with a project or some housework? Then the Demon is the one I want with me – eager, energetic and never complains, he’s defn my favorite at choretime. The Princess is gentle and kind – always my choice when i want to be uplifted or reminded that motherhood is a blessing. And the Bella Beast? When she’s not screaming or stamping her foot at me – she’s my favorite for snuggles, kisses, cheeky grins and hugs.

So do I have favorites? Yes I do. And then sometimes, I dont like any of my children at all. (shock, horror) Those are the days when I wish all of them would disappear and leave me to enjoy the bliss of solitude. Aint nobody the favorite then!

(That’s alright though – Im sure there’s some days when I’m not their favorite mother either.)

Rock this Tooth Fairy

The truth hurts.I can be a really horrible person. And a nasty mother.

My 7yr old son is very fiapoko. That means – he’s a little knowitall. He argues with his teacher. Contradicts his father. Corrects his mother. Mutters under his breath at his big brother. And generally irritates us all to death. So much that I find myself at times, reverting to childish, evil mother behaviour.(Cue wicked witch laugh here.)

Last week his sister’s tooth fell out. She carefully stowed it away for the Tooth Fairy. Her rotten brother announced, “The Tooth Fairy isn’t real you silly! It’s just your parents giving you money.” Sister’s lower lip trembled, “No! The tooth fairy is real, so there!” Rotten brother sneered knowingly and laughed. “No its not. Dont be such a baby!” I was tempted to fasi him.

That night the Rock sneaked into our house, dressed in a glittery tutu and wings the Tooth Fairy (aka ME wearing trackpants, 3 sweaters and a hoodie because its so damn cold) came to take sister’s tooth when she was asleep. The next morning, as Little Sister expressed joy over her money – Rotten Brother just had to jump in again with his two cents worth. “Mum and Dad left you that money. The tooth fairy isnt real. You dont know anything.” I really wanted to fasi him.

Today one of the Fiapoko’s teeth falls out. He is jubilant. “Haha! I’m gonna get some money tonight! Im gonna buy chewing gum and a candy bar from the dairy ! Haha!”

I give him the evil eye. “But I thought you said the Tooth Fairy wasnt real?”

He shrugs and gives Little Sister a defiant stare, “That’s right. The tooth fairy isn’t real.”

I smile. Sweetly. “Well I’ve got news for you then. Tooth fairies only want teeth that belong to children who actually believe in them. You dont, so give me your tooth so i can chuck it in the rubbish bin.”

He tries to protest. Whine. Telling me “No, I believe! I believe!”

I am unmoved. “No. You’re just saying that now because you want money. You’re absolutely right. The Tooth Fairy isn’t real so its a waste of time saving that nasty ole tooth. Get rid of it. NO MONEY FOR YOU!”

He was sad. I wasnt.I was jubliant that i had finally got one over this knowitall child. Ha. Gotcha! He skulked away to sulk in his room. I didnt. I did the touchdown victory dance. Yeah, that’s right! Can you smell what the Rock is cookin!? hmmm, now who’s the child here?!

So, no – not one of my better mother moments. But at least i didnt give in to the desire to fasi someone.

The only Tooth Fairy I want visiting me.

Family. Why we need them.

My mother-in-law is a wise woman and every now and again, HRH likes to quote nuggets of wisdom from her. Especially at tense moments with his children. Like when JB is giving us attitude because we wont let him go ‘hang out’ with his new friends at the mall. And it is so unlike JB to give us surly attitude about anything that we hardly know what to do. He harangues and harasses…why cant I go to my friends house? Why cant I go to movies with my friends? And we have a civilized chat, explaining ( yet again) that we don’t know these friends from a can of herrings. And there is no way in heck that we’re going to let him go to places with people we don’t know. He can invite them all to OUR house and I will make cookies and pizza for them and everyone can have a jolly dandy time. In OUR house. It makes perfect sense to us. But not to JB. Who sulks and mopes and kicks the wall when he thinks nobody’s listening. And when we have a family outing planned that clashes with more friend invitations and he has to hang with us instead – he double sulks and mopes and kicks the wall double hard. Especially when we tell him that family comes before friends. All the time.

And so in desperation, HRH pulls out this gem that his mum used to throw at him. “Son, you have to remember how important your family is. I’m going to tell you what my mother would tell me when I was your age and I wanted to go off with my friends, she said, If you get hit by a car one day and you’re stuck in hospital paralyzed – who’s going to come wipe your bum for you? Your friends or your family?!”

And the sulky teenager has no words to counter that one. Speechlessness. (Its a beautiful and rare thing from a teenager.) All JB can do is shrug and roll his eyes. And HRH is triumphant because he’s just won Round One in the heavyweight fight that will last from now until JB moves out/gets married or grows up. Whichever comes first.

And what do we learn from this?

Families are forever.

Because they will wipe your bum for you when you need it.

Barbie and the Blow Up Brothers.

I wanna be a Barbie Doll Girl…

Today me and the Fab Five were talking about FRIENDS. Who has too many and who doesnt have enough, that sort of thing. Then Little Son jumped in with his eager little contribution to the conversation. “I have lots of friends! Im the leader of a gang and its called the Blow Up Brothers!”

Great. Seven years old and he’s already in a gang. But I smile patiently and ask, “What do the Blow Up Brothers do?

“Oh we do lots of cool stuff. Like we play Zombie tag and chase people. And we’re the bosses of the monkey bars. And we’re so cool, everybody wants to be in our gang!”

Oh. Okay. I see. The ‘Blow Up Brothers’ is kinda like a clique of cool kids. I suppose I should be thankful that this child is not only ‘COOL’ but hes also the LEADER of the cool kids. I cast my mind back to my days in primary school in search of similar experiences to share. Experiences of times that I too – was ‘cool’ And belonged to a ‘Cool gang’ that everybody wanted to be in. Ummm…thinking really hard here

I thought about the ‘Barbie Doll Girls’ in Yr 5. Who would bring their dolls to school with them and all sit and have lunch together. And brush their Barbie Dolls hair. And share clothes. And Ken anecdotes. And I could never join them because no matter how much i begged, my mother absolutely refused to buy me a Barbie Doll. Because they were ‘silly toys that only teach girls to be silly!’. And I wished I could be silly. And I wished that I had a mother who wasnt such an enlightened feminist. Because all i wanted was to be a part of the Barbie Doll Girls Club. No, I couldnt tell the children about the Barbie Doll Girls Club. Seeing as how i never belonged to it.

Aha! And then I remembered! The SAVE THE DOG FOUNDATION’! Of course. How could i forget? At the tender age of ten, I was moved by the plight of the stray dogs that loitered about the school, ever-hopeful of lunchtime leftovers. And so I enlisted the help of several other caring individuals ( who also, QUITE BY CHANCE, did NOT belong to the Barbie Doll Gang either) We hung out in the school stationery shop where we used to all volunteer, selling pencils and sharpeners…(super cool hangout place.) Together we would pool our lunch money, pester students for donations and then use the funds to buy cream donuts for starving dogs with scrawny ribcages. We were a ‘gang’ on a humanitarian mission. How cool was that!?
Apparently not cool at all. Because all Five of the Fabulous Flock just stared at me with puzzled..and pitying expressions on their faces.

Sade shook her head, “Mum, you hung out in the school stationery shop?! That’s lame. Couldnt you find any cool people to hang out with?”

JB added, “Yeah, I wouldnt go around telling people that story.”

Little Son looked rather horrified, “Mum…were you kind of like…a nerd?!”

I spluttered and splushed, “No – me and my friends – we were intellectuals and we didnt care about silly things like..Barbie dolls and being popular and all that. We cared about deep and meaningful stuff. And we were passionate about starving animals!”

Sade interrupted me, “Yes and so you fed them cream donuts? That was a little Barbie wasnt it?”

And they all laughed. Raucously. And I had to wither them with a look. They had the grace to try and look apologetic. And the Princess patted my hand soothingly, “It’s okay, we dont care that you werent popular when you were little. We still love you.”

I was not appeased. The Fab Five went about their business. And left me here, plotting.

I wanna start a gang. And be cool.

Is it too late for me?

I Hate School Holidays.

School holidays. They are –
a. Hugely expensive
b. As exciting as watching my eyebrows grow.
c. More exhausting than an all night pub crawl ( not speaking from experience or anything…)
d. All of the above.

Yes, its that time again. When parents the nation over are gripped with the dreadful conundrum of…What can we do with these children?

In answer, I took the Fab Five to the Auckland Museum. For some excitement. Culture. Intellectual stimulation. Brownie points in heaven for “doing worthwhile, quality activities with ones children that do NOT involve a Playstation or Sky TV.”

I planned the excursion ahead of time. We invited cousins to come along with us for xtra fun. I studied the museum website and was happy to discover that if you took along proof of residence in Auckland then you didnt have to pay an entry fee. I packed snacks to go. To add more spice to the outing, we took the train to the city. Disembarked at Britomart and then caught the bus up to the museum. It was supposed to be thrilling. Fun. Fabulous.

Ha. Ha. Ha. (Everybody laugh with me now. Totally without humor.)

Yes we helped save the environment by taking public transport. But it sure as heck wasnt cost-effective. The train cost us $24 dollars. And the bus $16. I could have driven there for 20 bucks worth of petrol tops.

Yes, we meandered along through various Auckland suburbs and discovered the joys of trainriding. Listening to the Beast yell, “Look! A tunnel! Yaaaay!”…..”Look! Another tunnel! Yaaaay!”….”Look! A tunnel! Yaaaaay!”….”Look! A tunnel! Yaaaay!” (and so on and so on.) But it took over two hours to get to the city and up to the museum. And it involved some serious uphill walking. Since the stupid bus didnt actually drive right up to the front door of the museum. (I dont know why not. What the fudge is the point of taking a bus somewhere if you have to get off miles away from your destination and WAAAAAAALK there?) In our excursion party, we had a total of NINE children. By the time we walked in the museum door, we adults were tired, hot and frazzled. Sick to bits of the whole thing. And dreading the return trip home ( ohmigosh, not another tunnel…please no!) No, by then i was in no mood to soak in the cultural atmosphere. I ordered the kids to look around really quick. Because “in 30 minutes we are out of here, do you hear me?! Hurry up, hurry up!”

They whined and complained. “But we just got here!”

“So move fast and make every minute count.”

I tried very hard to be just like those ever-smiling, ever-ready with a hug mums you see on TV. But inside I was screaming. Im tired and if the return trip is as painfully long as the trip in then it will be dinnertime before we get home! We left the house at 9am and if i have to spend another hour in a confined space with all of you then I will end up throwing myself under a moving train.

We zipped through that museum with lightning speed. Walked alllllllll the way across the Domain to the train station. And trained alllllllll the way home. And when I told the Beast she couldnt get off at New Lynn station to go to the mall, she folded her arms and pronounced in a loudspeaker voice: I’M NOT HAPPY!

No kidding. You and me both.

Too many dollars, too many trainhours, too many hills, too many patient deep breaths later – I conclude:

I am NEVER taking children to the museum on a train again. And I am so glad that school starts up again next week.

Nooo… Not another tunnel!

Falling in Love

(Several of my friends have recently become new mothers. As I rejoice with them in their discovery of this wondrous thing called motherhood, I am reminded of my own first steps on this endless journey. In honor of fiercely beautiful and strong new mothers like Fotu, Vivienne, Manuia and soon-to-be Vanessa – I am sharing again, these thoughts written upon the birth of baby number five.)

Her head turns to the sound of my voice. Her eyes follow my every move. Her cheeks are soft against mine. My heartbeat lulls her to sleep. She trusts me completely. She is my every waking thought. ( and lets face it – shes waking me up heaps!)I’ve spent the last month faling in love. Surrendering to the wonder that is Bella. Until she is everything to me.

You see, unlike most mothers, it takes me time to fall under my children’s spell. That instantaneous superhuman mother love other women feel as soon as their child pops out – that just aint what Im about. My newborn babes alternately bewitch and bewilder me. Totally knocked out for my first delivery – i remember them wheeling me to a room full of mewling infants encased in incubators. “There, thats your little boy!” they said, pointing to one scrawny skinny little thing amongst many…’You dont say?’ was my hazy reply as it ocurred to me that they could hand me any old kid, tell me ‘its YOURS!’ and i wouldnt tell the difference. Yes i gave him milk. And held him. And cried when they poked and prodded him for blood. But not until 3 weeks later as i wandered the deserted halls of a sleeping hospital at 3am unable to sleep for thinking about him alone in his glass box – did it hit me. This tiny boy is MINE and I’m his mother. He’s stuck in there helpless and aint nobody else but me that will ever know him and take care of him the way i can. And I love him desperately. There was no parting us after that.

My second child was a full term 8 pounder. After 18 hours of horrific laboring hell they placed this huge THING on my chest. Im sorry to confess that I shuddered and asked – ‘eeewww what is that?!’ I’d never seen a newborn baby before…(wondering how could they be so mean to me after id suffered for so many hours.) “Its your baby!” they replied brightly. ‘You must be joking’ was my shocked thought. “Its grotesque!” Happily, my daughter wove her magic and eventually snuck her way into my heart.

Yes, step after faint little step my five little ones crept in when I wasn’t watching. Perhaps on a starfilled nite as i lay totally wiped out from endless breastfeeding,or was it one afternoon after bath time and bejewelled sunlight danced on their perfect skin as they nestled in my arms. Or when anguish filled them as a nurse injected their chubby little leg and they turned confused hurt filled eyes upon me their mother – their supposed protector? All i can say for certain is that each of them inspires a fierce protectiveness and an overwhelming love.

As I lull Bella to sleep on the verandah on a windswept evening – I am in awe of her. Tiny pink fingers unfurl in the light, eyelashes a flutter in the face of eternity. I shall reach up and pick a handful of stars for you my love, a silver shimmer to adorn your hair as we float in the night sky. Glorying in the heavens, I am reminded of a line I once read “Now wonderingly engrossed/ In your fearless delicacies/I am launched upon sacred seas/Humbly and utterly lost/In the mystery of creation/ Bells, bells of the ocean.”

That’s how I feel with you. Lost in the mystery of creation.

Baby Maneesha, born at 28wks. Photographed by Anne Geddes.

The Impossibly Hot (Imaginary) Man

The problem with creating fictional people and then writing a novel about them – is that you start to believe in them. You have chats with them in your head. You feel what they’re feeling and spend an inordinate amount of time musing upon what choices they’re going to make that day. In your novel. Which is starting to take over your REAL life. And an even bigger problem is when youre writing a YA romance. And the main love interest is an incredibly delicious concoction of man-ness. Called Daniel.

Why? Because you take all the very best bits of all the boyfriends you ever had. (And bits from all those you pined after and they never even knew you existed.) You add in a sprinkling of all the yummiest characteristics of every actor/celebrity/comicbook hero that ever sent chills down your spine. And then you mix it all up and ice him with everything you love/adore/lust for in your Significant Other. (In my case, my long-suffering husband of 17 years.) Then you let it all bake in a heated haze of creative fantasy. The man you end up with, then hops out of the oven and takes off running through your imagination. “Run, run as fast as you can, you cant catch me Im the gingerbread man!”

And he isnt always content to just hang out in your novel. No. He likes to spring out at you when you’ve had a long tiring day cleaning up the mess left behind by your family as they all dashed off to exciting lives at school/work. You contemplate your son’s filthy pit of a bedroom and you mutter darkly, “I bet Daniel never had a disgusting messy room like this.” And the Impossibly Hot ( and clean) Imaginary Man leans against the doorjamb and nods his head knowingly.

He lurks in the background when your husband is waaaaaay too tired from work to even have a conversation with you. Let alone take you to a movie. Or go dancing with you. And you think nasty thoughts – “Im sure if I was married to Daniel, he would bring me roses every day. And whisk me to Paris on the weekends. No reason, just because…” And the Impossibly Hot ( and never tired, never on a budget) Imaginary Man shrugs and gives me compassionate (steamy) looks.

The Impossibly Hot Man is never mean. Grumpy. Impatient. He’s wild and dangerous – without being unfaithful or insensitive. He’s rugged and rough around the edges – but knows how to dance the tango, iron his own shirts and make me fluffy pancakes for breakfast.He’s incredibly sexy but only ever wants to have sex at the exact same time i do. (wow, how in-synch is THAT!) And he thinks holding hands is as thrilling as watching ‘Kill Bill’. He’s loaded with money – but never has to go to work – so we can have exciting adventures together all day, everyday. Riding motorbikes, fighting off terrorists in Spain together, getting shot at while skiing together in Aspen, kissing at the top of the Eiffel Tower before we have to parachute down with a hankerchief to escape crazed assasins…Big sigh.

But probably the best part of the Impossibly Hot Man is that when Im with him ( in my novel…in my imagination) I am Impossibly Beautiful, Skinny, Funny, Clever, Witty, Exciting, Alluring, Powerful and Fascinating. Oh, and I always look like an entire crew of thousands did my makeup, hair, nails and wardrobe. Yes, together me and the Impossibly Hot Man are an Impossibly happy and beautiful couple. Run, run as fast as you can, you cant catch me…

Indeed, if I let him, the Impossibly Wonderful Imaginary Man would have me getting a divorce by the end of the day. Telling my children to put an ad in the “New Mother aka Slave Wanted” section of the newspaper. Packing my bags. And running off into the sunset. To live an impossibly happy life. Forever ever after. Where nothing bad happens. Where people never have to do dishes or laundry or worry about bills or raising naughty teenagers or look after sick preschoolers or yell at 7 yr old hyperactive little boys.

Which is why its a VERY good thing that this darn novel is five pages away from being finished. So i can stop chasing the Gingerbread Man and get back to reality. Because fiction is FICTION. And we should only ever escape in it once in awhile. Not let it run wild through our house, family or marriage.

(You hear that all you crazed Twilight addicts?! Edward is NOT REAL. I repeat…Edward is a gingerbread man!)

Fantasy Island

Ive been in a slump of self-pity. Apathy. Otherwise known as “I miss Samoa and I want to go home.” So I’ve been doing things like weep a little weep – when nobodys looking. Sceam a little scream – when everybodys unfortunate enough to be listening. Whinge a lot of whinge – to whoever will listen. Complain a lot of complain to everyone who doesnt want to hear it. And eat a lot of eat. In other words, Ive been a rotten miserable person to be around. Some of my whinges go like this …

“I miss my housekeeper so baaaaadly its not even funny. You know in Samoa i had a fulltime housekeeper and nanny that worked SIX days a week, she was a gem, a priceless gem. She cooked, she cleaned, she washed and she made sure i never noticed that my children were complete slobs. Not only that, but she entertained my beastly 3 yr old so well that i never ever saw her throw a tantrum, never heard her scream “I DONT LIKE YOU MAMA!” and I never ever knew that she absolutely hated having her hair washed. ( ohmigosh, the neighbors are going to call 111 the next time i wash this childs hair because she sounds like shes being flayed alive.) In Samoa i had time to live, time to rest, time to go running, time to think, time to laugh, time to actually enjoy my children because i wasnt so tired from cleaning up their mess. I miss my life in Samoa. And I miss my chequebook in Samoa. Whenever i wanted something, i just wrote a cheque from the construction company ( and didnt really stop and think how HRH was going to cover it) and i didnt have to do things like make a shopping list before i went to the store. Or plan my purchases for the week. I miss my life in Samoa!”

The other day I was going on like this to a very dear friend of mine. Who took a deep breath and said,

“Just stop it. You sound like a spoilt Princess. Face it – your life in Samoa was like living on Fantasy Island. You were like a Desperate Houswife! And now, you’re living in the real world. So get over it. Stop whining. This is your life. Welcome to reality!”

Well. That shut me up, didnt it!? What did I do? I told her she wasnt my friend anymore, so there! And perked up and asked “Oh really? Which desperate housewife do I remind you of? Please dont say Gabi ….”

No seriously, I thanked her. For giving me the kick in the butt that i needed. Yes i had a super blessed life in Samoa. But now here in NZ, I have the opportunity to really get to know my children. To experience the frustration and joys of having to provide for their every need all by myself. To see what its like when my whole family works together every Friday to clean the house from top to bottm and then relax together over fishnchips takeaway – our treat for doing all the chores. The satisfaction when i can successfully get my budget to streeeeeetch and make it to the new week. Here in NZ, we are spending way more time with our children then we ever did in Samoa – because back home we were too busy. Making money and spending it… ( well HRH was making it and i was spending it.)

So, Ive had my butt kicked. My whinging days are over. I dont live on Fantasy Island anymore. And Im not a Desperate Housewife.

Im Lani Wendt Young. And Im going to be happy living in New Zealand. Even if it kills me.